16 December 2015 Maan News
Al-Shabaka is an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and foster public debate on Palestinian human rights and self-determination within the framework of international law.
The settlements’ economic exploitation of the OPT
This policy brief focuses on the territories Israel occupied in 1967 -- the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights -- and more specifically on the Israeli settlements and outposts that were built in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). It does not tackle all of Israel’s violations of international law and of Palestinian rights.
The fact that Israel’s settlement construction has been based on the economic exploitation of the OPT has been widely documented. This has included the confiscation of large swathes of Palestinian land and destruction of Palestinian property to use for construction and agriculture purposes; seizure of water resources to the extent that 599,901 settlers use six times more water than the whole Palestinian population in the West Bank of some 2.86 million; appropriation of touristic and archaeological sites; and exploitation of Palestinian quarries, mines, Dead Sea resources, and other non-renewable natural resources, as will be discussed below.
Settlements have also been supported by an infrastructure of roads, checkpoints, and the Separation Wall, leading to the creation of isolated Bantustans in the West Bank, and to the appropriation of more Palestinian land.
As a result, Israeli settlements now control around 42 percent of West Bank land. This figure includes built-up areas as well as the municipal boundaries of the Israeli settlements. These boundaries actually encompass an area 9.4 times larger than the built-up areas of the West Bank settlements and are off-limits to Palestinians unless they have permits.
The majority of settlements in the West Bank are built in Area C, which represents 60 percent of the West Bank and which is richly endowed with natural resources. According to a World Bank study, 68 percent of Area C has been reserved for Israeli settlements, while less than 1% has been allowed for Palestinian use.